Graduation Year


Publication Date

Spring 4-23-2010


This study analyzes gender roles and sexuality within the cult of Asklepios through the analysis of inscriptions, medical texts, poetry, and art. I argue that the ancient Greek understanding of gender identity and sexuality is so omnipresent that it permeates everything from the concepts of illness and health themselves, to the appearance of the deities, and even the way healing was received within the sacred precinct. Also, I contend that Hygeia and Asklepios, representing health through harmony with nature and medical intervention respectively, were created and function in healing cults as an interdependent, inextricably linked sexual binary: health is equated with femininity and nature while medicine is culturally constructed and masculine. I conclude that the balance and adequate influence of both the masculine and the feminine creative principles, embodied by the divinities of healing and represented by all actors and objects associated with them, must be present for healing to occur.



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